Birds flying with freedom from the cage

Forgiveness is not about overlooking someone else’s mistakes, it is about letting go of your own judgement about them

There is a lot of talk these days about self-care. One of the best ways I’ve ever taken care of myself wasn’t by receiving a massage, getting a pedicure or buying myself flowers. No, the best way I’ve taken care of myself was by forgiving the man who took my leg from me.

Most of us have a story about how we were wronged, cheated, abused, hurt, deceived, or betrayed. There are as many stories out there as there are relationships. The exact details of how my accident happened don’t matter. What matters is that I was hit by a car when I was 17 years old. My left leg was immediately amputated and my right leg, though severely injured, was saved. And what matters is that I held on to my bitter, angry feelings toward Harvey, the man who hit me, for 15 years and that the accumulation of these harboured feelings ended up limiting my life—emotionally, physically and spiritually. What matters is that once I forgave Harvey, I felt unburdened, empowered, and free.

When I have conversations with people about my forgiveness journey, I encounter both awe and resistance. Many people ask me how I did it and in their question I hear a yearning. Not always to forgive a past wrong doing, but to at least release their own pent-up resentments. I’d like to share some comments I often receive from people who want to forgive, but don’t know how. These comments are all familiar to me—I’ve said them to myself many times over the years. Here is how I turned these comments into questions and how I answered them for myself.

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A version of this article was first published in the August 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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